Last weekend, Kenyans became party to a rather interesting spectacle about a young male pupil said to be a pupil at Consolata School here in the city. This boy decides to take his grievances about some fellow classmates online - and he used rather colourful language and made some rather graphic and bizarre threats.
His video was a fusion of an episode of Jerry Springer and the Love and Hip Hop reality shows. As expected, the outrage and pontification was instant, with Kenyans from all walks of life offering their couch side analysis, diagnosis and prescription of the situation. In my view, this clip was really a wake-up call and a report card of parenting and school life these days. Let us start with the simple fact that parenting these days is hard.
Many of us start off thinking parenting is cute and glamorous, about having the small versions of ourselves walking around decked in beautiful clothes and on best behaviour. The harsh reality is parenting is hard and unglamorous and our offspring are usually a version of our worst selves not our best selves.
Spending lots of time with children, even your own children is not always fun - it is often tedious, painful and stressful.
Children naturally like to play and do childish things which means they mess up with things like tidiness, order and silence, not to mention breaking of precious goods and belongings. Children consume our time, they need to be cleaned, fed and talked to slowly, which can test frayed and stressed nerves.
This is even before we walk about the fact that children require lots of money for clothes, games, and of course food.
These needs mean that parents today have to work harder to provide a comfortable life for their young ones.
Working harder means longer hours, with bosses, crazy demands and deadlines, toxic office politics and, of course endless office commutes. Today’s parents are too tired, too stressed, too financially and emotionally stretched to want to be in their own children’s company.
Parents delegate most of the unpleasant duties of parenting to the glorified house manager cum nanny while making sure that Cable TV and Wi-FI and all the attendant gadgets are up to date.
They get so caught up in their lives that they fail to notice that their tiny ones have now changed their lingo from Mufasa to profanity-ville, where words such as pandana, bitches and whores roll off easily from their tongues.
So, the young man in the video is a product of the parents we have become - and we should be very afraid.
Nikita was a name that seemed to appear quite frequently in the young boy’s videos. Based on his rant, he has serious issues with this Nikita girl, who seems to have committed a host of crimes that include calling him gay.
While this boy’s behaviour is unacceptable and should not be tolerated, we also need to focus on this mysterious Nikita and her deeds (real and imagined).
This is especially because the Nairobi grapevine is buzzing with stories of Nikita’s notoriety and ‘immunity’.
The same grapevine has a misguided view that bullying is the preserve of boys; and that girls are too delicate for that kind of thing. What they forget is the House of Eve has special capabilities when it comes to unleashing terror of the verbal kind - terror that reduces even the strongest men to quivering masses of fear.
Thanks to the Internet and TV, bullying skills and tricks can be upgraded at any time and by any gender.
Me thinks that this incident had some ‘shadowy’ producers behind the scenes - they are called bullies and they too should be put under scrutiny. This video also brought some focus on schools with many expressing shock and disbelief that all this was happening in a Catholic school. To assume that an institution can wholly correct errors and crimes in parenting is naïve and escapist.
We also know that church schools today are under-staffed and over-populated. Even well-meaning teachers are too stressed and underpaid to take time to deal with delinquent and undisciplined children. Schools also have cartels and interests these days, where the action and/or inaction of teachers is determined by parents’ responsiveness to their needs especially those that involve cash.
Schools today are not discipline or rehabilation centres, if you cannot fix your child at home, no school will.
I am sure in a few days, the buzz around this boy will disappear since we find something more entertaining to focus on. The school will most likely expel him or make it untenable for him to continue being among them; the bullies in the school will get even more ballsy as the boy has unknowingly given them an escape route.
In the meantime, the boy will continue with his clumsy and self-destructive attempts to gain publicity and unless his parents take action, he will end up being a man who is a misfit and whose only claim to fame is being good on camera, good with expletives and for overusing the word audacity.